I've said for a long time now that the Texas Longhorns and their fanbase live in a bubble. Because of this, their perception of reality is vastly skewed and there's no sense in even trying to explain it to them. Take this quote from Charlie Strong as an example. Here's what he had to say about last Saturday's 50-7 loss to TCU.
"I don't think we're far away at all. But we just didn't have them prepared to play as a coach. And we know we can do better ourselves and be more focused. But that team there Saturday, I know this, we're a better football team than that, without a doubt. We're a way better football team than that."
Not that far away? Are you kidding me? You lost by 43 points, Charlie! The only team that TCU has put a worse beat down on this season is Stephen F Austin. Even so, I'm worried about this weekend as the Sooners travel to Dallas to take on the Longhorns. I'm worried because a loss to Texas would derail an Oklahoma season, that has started with such promise, and leave one massive train wreck. I'm worried because Charlie Strong has been in rebuilding stages before and I'm quite certain that he hasn't forgotten what it takes to turn things around and there is no sense of panic coming from him.
"Yeah, the only thing that's different here that was different in Louisville, the score is different. But you've still got to believe in the mission, and you've got to have confidence, and you have to have confidence in our players. And I told our players, I said I have so much belief that we're going to get it turned. And it does look gloomy because of what happened. When you go close, close, and then all of a sudden you get blown out. But it's more of what I keep saying is I didn't think that was our team. And I think we can play much better than what we played, and we can coach much better. It's all about the coaching. That game is on me. It's all about doing a better job and the preparation and the focus and everything about it."
When he was directly asked if he sees his team turning things around, Strong responded with an affirmative.
Well, I think they will. Because you think about it, and I look at the game on Saturday and it wasn't so much of when you kind of setback after looking at the big picture. It was more just execution. Then when something bad happens, we've got to be able to bounce back because we'd fallen to adversity before. So don't all of a sudden think because a team can make a play on you that we can't bounce back. Then once bad things happen, that's when you start losing it, because you can't -- you cannot ever not believe in yourself. You always have to have that confidence. And our guys have the confidence. It's just that good things got to happen. But you've got to make the good things happen. That's what we're not doing. It's almost like we're waiting for whomever we play for them to do something bad, and all of a sudden we can jump. No, no, no. Let's go out and make those bad things happen. But let's be the ones that make it happen for them.
Even worse for OU, is that he's looking at this week as the rally point. Oklahoma is the opponent that they want to make their statement against. They've circled this game and Strong says the timing is perfect for them to come out swinging.
"A lot of times we go out on Sundays and there is a lot of joking and guys are just kind of messing around. But last night you can see that there was no joking going around, (everyone) kind of settled in. I looked at one of our coaches and said this game came at the right time for us. So now we can get them focused and get them back. When I talk about, hey, it's time for us to get our confidence back and get these guys back to track. And, yes, it falls at a great time for us. So we'll see just how much we are going to go out and go compete, and how much we've got to get them prepared and get them focused."
Okay, perhaps I'm overreacting here. After all this is Texas we're talking about here and Bob Stoops has owned the Longhorns Barry Switzer style. Charlie Strong knows that his team has shown nothing that would indicate they are capable of pulling off what would be one of the biggest upsets to this point of the season. He also knows that Baker Mayfield is the primary reason the Sooners are sitting at #10 in the nation right now.
"Just in looking at Baker, and I go back to that Tennessee game, he's unbelievable when he gets outside the pocket. It's just like he feels more comfortable when the protection breaks down and he can get outside and release the ball. His percentage rate goes up so high that he has the receivers that he can throw to with Westbrook and Shepard. It's amazing to watch him. He can beat you with his feet and he can run the ball well enough and throw it where he gets the ball in the right guys hands. So that's why I say they're just so balanced on offense because of him and watching Baker go."
Entire Charlie Strong press conference here
Texas Player Quotes
A lot of people want to talk about these freshmen and this freshman class coming in and us playing a lot of freshmen. And that's great for them. But the team starts with the seniors and the juniors. They can't win the conference on their own. So we have some juniors and seniors trying to lead those freshmen, and some of them are resistant and hesitant to change because they haven't been a follower before. - Dylan Haines on leadership
Well, you know, it's a rival game, so everybody's ready. Everybody is ready to go out there with the game we had this past week...we're just trying to come back and show everybody that we are a good team and we can make plays and we can be good - D'Onta Foreman on getting ready for the rivalry
Definitely looking at it. That way we can build some momentum for the team. And really it's a pride game, and once you have a game like this, all that's done before really doesn't matter. You step into this atmosphere and you've got to bring your A-game, simple as that. Going into OU, it will be way different than any other game we're going to play this season. Going into it, we've got to get the W. And with that, it definitely changes the way you feel about yourself. And that's why we need more confidence. - Duke Thomas on the timing of the OU game
They're Oklahoma. They're very talented just like we are, and I feel like they have a good team just like we do - Paul Boyette on how good Oklahoma is
Funny that not a single player mentioned the magic button they're gonna press that tuns them into a Top 25 caliber team, and allows them to be competitive, because that's what they're going to need on Saturday. I don't believe that the Longhorns have ever been so close and yet still so very far away.